Take a moment to learn about The Absolute Sound 2021 Product of the Year awards as well as the 2022 Editors’ Choice Awards! Each one of the 2021 Products of the Year have also won a spot of the 2022 Editor’s Choice Awards! HiFi and 2-Channel audio have been making a huge come back over the last few years and now there is so much equipment it’s hard to tell what’s good and what’s not. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
The Amplifier and Preamplifier are the power pair of the 2-channel system, so we’ll start with them. The latter simply boosts signal, making your sound robust and powerful, while the former’s range of function varies from muting signals, changing the balance between channels, adding filters, modifiers, and more.
Starting with the 2021 Product of the Year award winner for Solid-State Amplifier, the NAD C298. Far from a basic power amplifier, the C298 has selectable power inputs that make it a manufactured natural for studio use or for connection to high end preamps and processors. The NAD C298 also won a 2022 Editor’s Choice Award making it one serious piece of award-winning technology!
Coming into first place for the 2021 DAC of the Year as well as winning a 2022 Editor’s choice, the Bryston BR-20 preamplifier. Called “The Ultimate Audiophile Hub”, the BR-20 has been designed to work with any source. This powerful preamp features connectivity to accommodate the demands of most modern audiophiles. It has the ability to hold the best ever built-in headphone amp to optional phono inputs for vinyl, and a 4K HDMI input for DSD playback and A/V connectivity.
If you’re a 2-channel lover then this next 2021 Product of the Year and 2022 Editor’s choice award winner is for you! The Rega Planar 6 with an RB330 tonearm takes home two awards… one for each channel! It was designed to outperform anything in its price range, and it does. The Planar 6 comes stock with the RB330 tonearm and a dual-layer float glass platter. The neo turntable power supply provides convenient speed selection, advanced anti-vibration control, and electronic fine speed adjustment.
The RB330 Tonearm comes standard with a new bias assembly and has been redesigned with a stiffer vertical bearing housing, integrated arm clip, and an improved spring housing with easy-to-read numbers.
Want to make that turntable better? The cartridge Product of the Year award wins an Editor’s choice as well and it’s not just for looks… even though the cherry red is gorgeous. The Hana Umami Red Cartridge slashes onto the scene with its brilliantly vibrant red body made by classic Japanese techniques for modern audio engineering. Hand assembled to ensure an intense musical experience worthy of the legendary HANA sound quality.
How would you connect your record player to your amp? Want another dual award-winning piece of equipment? For Phono stage of the year, the Hegel V10 is our top dog. Using over thirty years of designing state of the art discrete transistor circuits, Hegel has created a masterpiece capable of making your music as tangible as the record it’s pressed into.
Now, enough of what you need to boost the signal and control it, let’s get to the good stuff… speakers and subs. With Loudspeaker of the year and Subwoofer of the year coming from two powerhouse companies, we barely even have to describe what makes them so great. But we’re going to anyway because these speakers and subs deserve it.
For Ultra-High-End Loudspeaker of the Year, Vandersteen takes top spot in the competition with their KENTO line. The KENTOs represent a complete rethinking of the usual Vandersteen speaker. With a historic model five price, this speaker brings together the carbon tweeter of the 5A, a new carbon/balsa core midrange from the Seven MkII, and the brand-new side firing counterforce 9.
For this year’s best bass look no further than trusted sub manufacturer, JL Audio. The JL Audio Dominion d110 and d108 blast away the competition with their state-of-the-art Class D amplifier which is able to deliver unmatched performance and value for its price. The d series subs are purpose-built to reproduce powerful low frequency events with shocking impact and precision.
Now that 2021’s Product of the Year champions have been announced and talked over we can move on to the 2022 Editor’s Choice Awards. With eleven companies and almost fifty unique pieces of equipment there is something for everyone on this year’s Editor’s choice list. High end hifi equipment that covers amps, preamps, phono stages, turntables and cartridges, subwoofers, and loudspeakers – get ready to learn about the best of the best in hifi technology so far this year!
With a company like JL Audio that has been consistently winning awards over a number of years, one can only expect that they would win multiple awards again this year… and they did! A company known for their subwoofers has even won an award for their CR-1 active sub crossover. When you make the best subs you need to make sure the crossover can handle integrating it, to get around this problem JL made their own and from the award we can tell that they’ve done a great job.
The CR-1 is a powerful crossover that improves not only the sub’s performance but the main speakers as well. When it comes to what they do best, though, JL
dominates the subwoofer world with a bass filled fist. Two of their Fathom line subwoofers, the F112/113, won an Editor’s choice as well the IWSv2-SYS-213 In-Wall unit. That’s not all though, JL Audio also took an award home for their e110 and e112 subwoofers AND their Gotham g213 v2. Nine awards for JL audio and eight of them for subwoofers… that should tell you everything you need to know about JL’s subs.
Now, let’s talk loudspeakers. They’re two companies on this list that fight for supremacy over this category, no surprises, it’s KEF and Vandersteen. Two companies with equal respect for the art of the loudspeakers but each with a wildly unique approach to design, form, and function. Let’s start with KEF. Three out of four of their speaker awards come from the LS series – the LSX, LS50 Meta, and LS50 Wireless II the fourth came from their R11 – the largest model in their R series.
I know what you’re saying, “two of those speakers are wireless, can they really compete?” the answer should be clear from the awards… obviously they can. These speakers are small, aesthetic, functional,… portable, and LOUD! They fit on shelves and desks perfectly and can easily connect to your sources with Airplay and Bluetooth capability – aside from all these perks, the color selection makes them more unique than most speaker pairs. The LS50 Meta’s come in all the colors and have all the sound but they have the steady control of a wire connection. And the R11? It’s no surprise that the R11 is on this list, hybrid aluminum drivers with a 12th generation Uni-Q for mid and treble – this flagship R series titan is a monster of speaker.
Continuing on loudspeakers with the mighty Vandersteen line, each one of the winners here is a floor standing beast ready and waiting to change your understanding of what real music is. Vandersteen stomps onto the scene with the Model 2Ce Signature III (which started production in 1977 and hasn’t ceased production since), followed by the Model 3A Signature, the Treo CT, the KENTO Carbon, and of course their flagship speaker, the Model Seven Mk II.
A storied loudspeaker company winning five awards, each one of the speakers on the list represents a different point in price range. A truly varied podium really goes to show not only the full breadth of Vandersteens’ knowledge but also their compassion for audiophiles of all means. Now what are the Editor’s using to connect all their equipment, what sources are they using, how are they boosting said sources? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all that also.
Aside from some CD players, a total of four sources made it this year, three turntables and an HD music software system. Roon Labs has created the ultimate music player for audiophiles and music fanatics. Using bit-perfect delivery and powerful DSP, one can enjoy a totally custom music experience with the highest quality audio. Are music servers too new school for you? No problem, the other three winners are all considered a “new age throwback”.
With Rega’s high quality turntables you can breathe new life into your old vinyl and allow you to listen to them like never before. The Planar 1, Planar 6 with RB330 tonearm, and finally the reference level Planar 10. From the Planar 1, their lowest level turntable up to their greatest, this company creates master level products for people who love and care about what they listen to more than the average enthusiast.
With all these monster speakers, sources, and subwoofers, it only makes sense that the amps, preamps, and DACs (digital audio component) have to be powerful enough to handle them – I’ve got eighteen to talk about from three different companies. I won’t bore you with every single winner, but I’ll talk about a few from each.
From Bryston, the Editors have decided that two amps, three DACs, and two pre-amps made the cut. For amps we have the 7B3 and the B-1353 each one a powerhouse in their own right and capable of running all but the most brutal loads. Each one of them whisper quiet and capable of revealing detail and nuance you never even knew existed.
Moving onto the DACs a true audiophile knows the struggle of finding that one component that could be described as a “giant-killer”. The editor’s choices assure us that the search is over.
Extraordinarily crafted and engineered the BDA-3 and BDA-3.14 are true David and Goliath level DACs. Compatible with virtually any digital source component creating a measured performance that comes extremely close to the theoretical limit of digital audio stream decoding, providing the finest detail in your recording. The BCD-3 is a standalone modern high-res CD player for those who enjoy a hard copy of their music.
For those who need that extra boost, Bryston’s BP26 with MPS-2 and the BR-20 answer the call. The BR-20 is a state-of-the-art analog preamp designed with award winning digital to analog conversion circuitry – all in a smaller chassis. The BP26 boasts a lower noise and distortion figure with a higher load level and a rich vibrant audio experience.
From Moon by SimAudio the list becomes a little more varied with an amp, some phono preamps, a CD player, and an all-in-one music player. Another CD player wins an award, like the Bryston BCD-3 the Moon 260D has an optional 32-bit DAC which combines high performance USB input and CD playback all in one chassis. Two Phono preamps blast onto the scene also, with the three turntables and various accessories for vinyl from earlier, it’s no surprise a couple high performance phonos made it onto the Editor’s list.
The Moon 810LP and the 310LP are for true audio purists, quickly becoming the new reference for astonishing analog playback combined with unsurpassed flexibility. Coming in with two more Editor’s choices on HiFi equipment, Moon has an Amp, the 600i v2 where the already award-winning technology just gets better by adding increased function without any extra form. Finally, and coming up on its 40th anniversary, the ACE All-in-One is ready and willing to become the heart and soul of any custom home HiFi.
Now, from NAD we bring six amplifiers, each one specializing in a different area. From Multi-channel and stereo amplification to hybrid digital DAC – these amps are guaranteed to change the way your system sounds for the better. Smashing through the competition Is the C 316BEE V2, the C328, C368, C658, C298, and the D3020 V2.
So, now that you’ve learned all the award-winning high end hifi brands and the top pieces from each you need to ask yourself one thing… are the stock wires enough to connect all this audiophile equipment together properly?
The answer is simple, it’s a big fat maybe. The stock wires will technically power and connect all this hifi technology together but, if you want some cables that are able to bring out the full potential of each piece of your audiophile equipment, look no further than Wireworld. With a total of nine Editor’s Choice awards, Wireworld easily won the most awards as a single company. With wires for every need or want, this company is the epitome of high quality wiring and variety.
High end audio systems need high end audio wires and Wireworld has those wires in spades, and more. From USB and HDMI to basic power cables, ethernet, and more, one order of cables from Wireworld may be expensive but it’s worth it when you can guarantee you’re getting award winning quality.
A total of forty-nine Editor’s choices and seven Products of the Year give you plenty of hifi equipment and high-end audio brands to choose from when creating your own high end home audio system. And remember, if you ever have any questions or need help with your own high-end hifi system call or email Boca Tech Hifi at firstname.lastname@example.org – (561) 336-9600, we love talking high end audio and guiding new people through the world of custom home hifi.
By David Galea – David, as a part of our Marketing and Customer Experience Departments, is always searching for and writing about innovative solutions that fit into our company’s and our clients’ needs.